Pros and Cons of Meal Replacement Shakes: Can They Be a Part of a Healthy Diet?

delicious shake

If you’re looking to lose weight but you’re just too busy to meal prep your lunches or just want something easy you can take on the go, you may be considering meal replacement shakes. When you think of meal replacement shakes you may at first think of shakes for the aging population, but there are actually a lot of good options for athletes and busy people on-the-go. 

But are they really healthy and should you use them? Let’s look at the pros and cons of using meal replacement shakes. 

Pros and Cons of Meal Replacement Shakes 


  • You don’t need to cook – ready meals are packed with sugar and salt to preserve them, so if you find yourself getting home late at night and just want something quick, a meal replacement shake can be a fast and healthier option. 
  • Great for athletes and bodybuilders – they are nutritionally dense; so if you’re looking for ways to squeeze more protein or carbs into your diet, they are a great way to do so. 
  • Fast and you can take them on the go – great for busy people or those traveling. 
  • Easy to track – you don’t need to spend ages weighing your food for MyFitnessPal. 
  • Low calorie – great for if you are trying to lose weight. 
  • Good meal replacement shakes are full of vitamins and minerals – just check the label before you buy. 


  • They aren’t food – If you don’t like shakes normally, having them to replace a whole meal isn’t going to make them any more appealing. 
  • You don’t learn how to cook healthy food – a meal replacement shake is better than a microwave meal or takeout food, but you’re not going to learn how to make fast, easy, healthy meals without a little effort. 
  • You need to analyze the label – all too many meal replacement shakes are high in carbs or fats, so you need to do your research about what your meal replacement shakes are offering you. Also be conscious about not simply using a protein shake, unless you are going to have a big, nutritionally dense meal at another time during the day. 
  • Often low calorie – which isn’t ideal if you’re trying to put on muscle or weight. 

The key to using meal replacement shakes in your diet is to look for shakes that are well balanced (fats, carbs, protein), contains vitamins and minerals, and at least a few grams of fiber. 

Meal replacement shakes can be a great solution for busy people on the go but need to be used as a part of a healthy balanced diet, not in an effort to avoid it. If you’re reluctant to eat your veggies, a veggie smoothie as an addition to your diet may be a better option.